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Tag: cake

Unboxing the cake that Millie baked

Sunday, 7 January, 2018 0 Comments

It’s the time of year when we unbox the annual cake from our dear friend, great neighbour and queen baker, Millie Hanley. It’s a traditional fruit cake and it goes nicely with a glass of sherry but it goes best with a strong cup of tea.

Millie's cake wrapped

Millie's cake slivered

Millie's cake papered

Millie's cake unboxed


Unboxing Millie’s Easter cake

Sunday, 16 April, 2017 0 Comments

Great neighbour, great friend, great baker! Happy Easter! Beannachtaí na Cásca! Boa Páscoa! Frohe Ostern! ¡Felices Pascuas! Buona Pasqua! Joyeuses Pâques!

Cake 1

Cake 2

Cake 3

Cake 4


My mother’s Christmas cake

Saturday, 17 December, 2016 0 Comments

The tin that was used for baking this cake was bought in Ballylanders, County Limerick, in the early 1950’s for 2 shillings and 9 pence. It measures nine inches across. Now that Ireland has gone metric, that measurement can be expressed as 23 cm. A euro equivalent for “2 shillings and 9 pence” is harder to compute, though, as the price refers to a foreign country — a pre-decimalization Ireland of almost no disposable income, zero inflation and a tendency to regard even humble baking tins as once-in-a-lifetime purchases. But, regardless of whether you are using an antique tin or a modern one, it is vital that you line it with a double-thickness of silver foil.

INGREDIENTS

750 grams sultanas
350 grams self-raising flour
150 grams “soft” brown sugar
250 grams butter
4 tablespoons water
4 tablespoons brandy
4 eggs
1 teaspoon almond essence
pinch or two ground almonds

PREPARATION

Preparing the fruit Put the sultanas (light-coloured ones are preferred but the darker variety will do) in a saucepan and add the water and brandy. Heat gently until the mixture begins to steam. Remove from heat and cover saucepan.

Next, place the brown sugar in your mixing bowl. Take four eggs and break each one separately in a saucer to test for quality before adding to the sugar and beat until the mix is creamy. Add a half-teaspoon of almond essence for flavour.

The wooden spoon test Gradually sieve in the flour and fold into the mix adding a few pinches of ground almonds as you go along. Remember those sultanas and brandy? Cut the butter into the steamed fruit and add to the flour, sugar and eggs in the mixing bowl.

Use the “vertical wooden spoon” test to see if the consistency of mix is suitable. If the spoon stands to attention, you are on the right track. Finish off by adding the remainder of the flour.

More lining for the tin now. This time it’s greaseproof paper, folded doubly. Pour the mix into the lined tin and paste into the corners. Make a hollow with your hand in the centre to allow for expansion.

The baking tin Bake at 180 degrees for twenty minutes and then at 160 for an hour; leave in the oven and probe the centre of the cake with a knitting needle (recommended) or other sharp object until satisfied that it is baked thoroughly.

A slice is best enjoyed with a big cup of tea. If a roaring fire is at hand, appreciate the warmth, and remember that this cake was once made by a person who lived her life for the benefit of others, many of whom were grateful, and remain so.


Bitter-sweet cake, in memory of AA Gill

Sunday, 11 December, 2016 1 Comment

The great Sunday Times writer and critic, AA Gill, died at Charing Cross Hospital in London yesterday, shocking the journalistic community with the suddenness of his death. Only a few days earlier, Gill, 62, had finished what turned out to be his last article — an account of his search for a treatment that might have extended his life. His death robs British journalism of one of its most individual voices.

AA Gill was wholly politically incorrect and he delighted friend and foe with his observations: “There are many wonderful things about Egypt, but none of them is gastronomic. An Egyptian restaurant belongs on the same street as a Fijian ballet school, a Ukrainian tailor and a Nigerian interior decorator.” RIP.

AA Gill cake with citrus

“Death lends everything a metaphoric imperative. Mundane objects become fetishes when the departed no longer need them, and breakfast conversations grow runic and wise from behind the shadows.” — A.A. Gill


A single candle can defy the darkness

Friday, 29 July, 2016 1 Comment

Today, we remember, with sadness and joy, the birthday of Catherine O’Donnell-Fitzgerald (29 July 1928 – 6 September 2015). Her generosity, wit and hospitality were legendary and her legacy of love is a permanent reminder that some families are blessed by goodness and some are not. It is true that when the sun has set, no candle can replace it, but it is equally true that a single candle can defy the darkness.

Blowing the candles out

“If you don’t grieve for the dead, how can you mourn for the living?” — John le Carré, Smiley’s People


Mother’s cake

Sunday, 17 April, 2016 0 Comments

“His father is out cutting wood, so he goes to his mother.
‘Mother, I must away and see the world, or I shall go mad.’
Says his mother, ‘If you must go, go you must, and God go with you! I will bake you a cake. Will you have a little cake with my blessing, or a big cake with my cursing?’
Says Jack, ‘Make me a big cake, mother. It will last longer.’
His mother makes him a big cake, and he sets out. And she is standing on the roof of the house, calling curses after him as far as she can see him.”

The Red King and the Witch: Gypsy Folk and Fairy Tales by Ruth Manning-Sanders

Mother's cake


A month of mourning and cake

Tuesday, 6 October, 2015 1 Comment

How does one measure the extent, the expanse of human loss? And when it involves the loss of a beloved mother, how does one explain the feeling of anguish left by the absence of so constant and cherished a presence? Words fail. Although a month has elapsed since her death, the pain remains acute.

One source of comfort in these sad days is the support offered by her friends and neighbours. Their loyalty and support is heroic and the beautiful memorial cake baked by the saintly Milly Hanley expresses love better than any phrase or sentence. The act of taking the time to create something nourishing in the style favoured by my mother is the ultimate tribute to her legacy.

Milly's memorial cake


The cakes of love

Tuesday, 21 April, 2015 0 Comments

“Destiny cuts
the cake of love,
Three slices to some,
To others, a crumb.”

Stefano Benni, Margherita Dolce Vita

Cakes of Cork